Singlespeed & Fixed Gear - Fixed gear in the UK?
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06-17-05, 02:41 AM
As with the majority of this forum I've been considering an entry level fixed (usual suspects of the Pista and IRO Mark V).
However, neither of these are available here in the UK (as far as I know). Does anyone have any info about getting hold of either one of these over here? Am I going to get stung with huge tak/shipping/handling fees, or do you think Bianchi dealers in the UK (Evans cycles etc) would be able to order a Pista through there shop?
Finally, anyone here from the UK who's had success/problems with getting hold of one of these fixies? You guys in the states have got it lucky......! I guess I could just but a flight out to NYC with a bike bag for a couple of days.....
There's an online company www.sortedcycles.co.uk who are able to source alot of stuff not ordinarily brought in by dealers. In 7 years as a courier I've never seen a single Pista (I think it's a USA only model) and only one IRO, and the owner of that imported it himself. You can get Specialized Langster & Fuji Track as complete bikes though.
I have an IRO Highlander, which I ordered through HubJub: http://www.hubjub.co.uk.
If you're in London, Condor produce some pretty decent street-fixable frames - I think they do a Pista all fixed up for about 600UKP.
06-17-05, 05:17 AM
Yeah, I'd thought about the Condors...but I quite like the Bianchi (which by the sounds of things wouldn't be too common in london if I could get hold of one!) and the IRO.
I actually sent an email to aw cycles, and got some some pretty quick replies saying that they could probably source one. I'll let you know how it works out.
We tested an aluminium test Pista in C+136 but thanks to popular demand from the courier fraternity, Condor’s range now includes two steel offerings – there’s also the higher end Record version. For the standard Pista, Condor claim Dedacciai’s mid range SAT tubeset is similar in feel to Reynolds 631, but with added strength. Our bike was a 55cm with a 3cm sloping top tube, it actually feels larger – more like a 58. Like a track frame, backward facing horizontal dropouts allow easy adjustment to chain tension.
Rather than modifying a conventional track frame, it’s been designed with road use in mind. Bottom bracket height (10.7in) is slightly higher than standard road bikes (10.5in) for clearance but not as much as the unofficial ‘Manchester’ standard for banked track racing (11.25in) – so it’s easier to put your foot down at the lights. Also useful are the mounts for a bottle cage not found on track frames. The ITM Spider carbon blades are basic; good for ironing out road dimples yet stiff enough for the involved riding that’s suited to the bike. Alignment is almost perfect throughout, and the finish is also particularly good, with neat, filled TIG welding and classy, understated graphics that don’t shout for attention but turn heads amongst those in the know. Cool looking Baby Blue is the other colour on offer.
It takes a while to become a smooth talking, riding ‘fixer’ – as those who ride a fixed wheel are known. But with a little practise, there’s a real feeling of oneness with a bike whose wheels move only with the movement of your pedals. Acceleration and deceleration are more easily controlled, and there’s less chance of locking out the back in slippery conditions. Many couriers find fixed wheels far safer to ride as speed is capped and handling becomes more flowing, encouraging you to look ahead and take a more thoughtful line through traffic. Fixed wheels are good for training too, as they ensure an even cadence, help build up strength and keep you warm. The Pista’s tight rear triangle, with Rizzla-thin clearance between its 23c tyre and the seat tube allows no room for mudguards but ensures ultra crisp handling. Surprisingly, we didn’t have any problems with running the shorter than average crank lengths around the city – recommended for banked tracks – and were grateful for the extra clearance round bends. But what we particularly liked about the Pista was the additional freewheel on the flip side of the hub. This larger 17 tooth sprocket provides a smaller gear for hillier areas, while the freewheel ensures descents are lot less of a handful. We’d have preferred 17/18 tooth ratios to give a smaller gear of around 70in to keep you going with the flow on blustery winter city roads – you could always downsize the sprocket later in the year. All this can be specified on request, depending on personal fitness and intended use – others are bound to want a smaller gear still.
Immediately noticeable are the oversized flanges of the Pista’s EX cartridge bearing track hubs, the rear of which sports those two sprockets – the 16t fixed, and the 17t freewheel. Mavic CXP22s are a cheapish rim but a sensible winter choice, with a handy wear line indicator. In any case, riding fixed prolongs rim life, as much of the braking is done through the drivetrain. Tyres are Kevlar beaded Vittorio Zaffiro rubber. With a soft compound, they’re grippy on winter roads but not as durable as Conti’s Gatorskins, though their deep profile provides extra cornering clearance. The Pista uses a radially-spoked wheel up front, as much for looks as any weight or aerodynamic advantages, we suspect. Spokes laced radially can at times work loose – some wheel builders add a few drops of DT’s thin threadlock. 15mm nuts allow the rear wheel to be easily set on the horizontal dropouts and are matched at the front, which provides a welcome further deterrent to thieves.
There’s not much to a fixed or singlespeed, and everything on the Pista is pretty much spot on for the price and use. Low maintenance costs are a real advantage to running a single gear, though with its extra freewheel sprocket, it’s one step up from a true bare bones bike. Stronglight’s cold forged cranks deserve particular praise, as they’re light and beautifully made – at 165mm, they might feel short at first but they’re good for spinning and when the track beckons, there’s more clearance on those banked turns. Handlebars and stem are matching oversized Big Logo and Big Piego, offering loads of stiffness when sprinting away from the lights and the chunky track chain should give plenty of life. The Shimano Tiagra brakeset guarantees precision braking – there are two levers for riding the bike as a singlespeed, rather than the single front calliper more common found on fixed wheels. It’s worth noting that the bike comes pretty much customised for individual use – including a pick of tyres, crank lengths, gear ratios, stems, and upgrades.
CYCLING PLUS VERDICT: 9
Fixed wheels seem to be the fashion right now. A beautifully simple, reliable and understated set of wheels, the Pista certainly combines fashion with function. Once you’ve cracked the fixie nut, you’re sure to be enamoured by the flowing quality it nurtures in your ride. Effectively a commuter, a low-tech trainer and a track machine in one, the Pista’s at a reasonable price too – we’ve given it a higher score then the alu version as we really rated the match of sweet steel frame and versatile hub.
AT A GLANCE:
06-18-05, 06:00 AM
I've been working my way towards getting a Mark V Pro frame imported straight from IRO.
Tony @ IRO has quoted me $90 US for the shipping, which was much less than I'd expected, but the tax/duty is a killer. I've been told that they take the total cost of the bike (or frame) and the shipping and add 13%, then 17.5% VAT. From an objective view, the frame is not worth the total amount with duty, but I love the look of it and have heard nothing but good things about the bike and the way Tony treats his customers. Plus I can't find anything in the UK which matches all of my criteria for a similar prices even with all the tax.
I'm mid-way through ordering the frame; Tony is checking stock.
A few months ago I asked HubJub if they still had any frames. Will isn't ordering another big batch and said that he can/would only import them in pairs. So if you want to build up the bike from a frame I could find out how much it would cost through HubJub - PM or email me if you're interested.
06-18-05, 09:21 AM
Will at hubjub.co.uk is excellent for sourcing stuff hard to find in the UK and is quick to respond to emails.
The Condor pista is decent, but overpriced in my opinion. If you do get a Condor, I would do a careful inspection of everything before paying. A friend of mine that bought one found out (a little too late) that they used generic straight guage spokes on his wheels that wouldn't hold tension and he broke a few on the rear wheel. Why this happened I dunno, I've bought several shop built wheels from them and they all used DT double-butted and have survived car crashes without needing a true! They also use a shortish reach rear brake caliper that doesn't allow much adjustment for when the wheel is at different spots in the ends, of course this only matters for singlespeed, not fixed. All that said, I absolutely adore my late 70's/early 80's Condor track frame. I'm gonna get them to respray it to it's original color since the previous owner did a dodgy respray over the orig. paint years ago.
Fuji trackbikes are getting fairly common in London and at £300 an excellent value! On-one's Il Pompino is also very common around here but go for the frameset as there's been issues with the BB and chainline on the complete bike.
I've never seen a newer Bianchi pista in England, I have seen a couple of older 'proper' bianchi trackbikes in celeste and they're absolutely gorgeous!
Personally, I'm looking into a custom build from Mercian, Bob Jackson, Whitcomb or Dave Lloyd - just haven't decided yet.
06-18-05, 10:48 AM
I've since also contacted a few people:
like you said, drive-thru, I sent Tony at IRO an email about ordering a complete Mark V - he said it would involve two separate boxes, each at 90 dollars. Then I assume there'd be tax and handling etc. It sounds less appealing then the £300 or so that a complete Mark V would usually cost without the shipping etc.
I also sent an email to Evans cycles, seeing as they also seem to be Bianchi dealers. Like aw cycles, they said it shouldn't be a problem sourcing a pista. No details as of yet with regards to price, but it must surely be less than getting something shipped from the US?
I don't completely understand how HUb Jub works. Would ordering through them eliminate any handling/shipping? Could you ask for pretty much any US product, that's hard to get here? Call me lazy, but I'm probably going to go for a complete set up of the Mark V...the specs (possibly with the deluxe wheelset) seem more than adequate for my present needs.
Thanks again for all your replies...definitely helpful and glad to see I'm not the only one having some difficulties.
06-19-05, 09:57 AM
I never actually got a price from HubJub because I wasn't going to be importing 2 frames. I assumed that it would only be slightly cheaper than going direct through IRO because of savings on the shipping and maybe tax/duty (not sure how import duty works for businesses). But I didn't think the difference would be much, so I'm trying to get my frame straight from IRO.
I guess that for a 'complete' bike, Tony ships the frame (with bits assembled to it) in one box and the wheels in another - probably cheaper than sending one larger box.
If, for you, there isn't much between the IRO and the Bianchi, I would say go for the Bianchi as you are more likely to get lower price through one of the larger companies. From what I hear the Fuji is a comparable bike to the IRO and Pista, so that would probably be the best deal. In the end it's up to you and what you are prepared to pay.
Check out http://www.trackcycling.co.uk/shop/
I can personally recomend them. I got my current bike, a Terry Dolan from www.trackcycling.co.uk The price was very good and delivery took one day. I'm currently waiting for my Bob Jackson to be built, still six weeks to go on that one unfortunately, but even so £300 for a hand built lugged steel frame and forks is hard to beat.
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